Are you suffering from business comparisonitis?
Are you suffering from comparisonitis? Find out why it’s so dangerous, and how to stop doing it – and build a business that works for you.
You’ve heard the expression comparison is the thief of joy? Well in business comparing yourself to others can steal a lot more than your peace of mind.
Why? Because, if you’re inflicted with a bad dose of comparisonitis, you risk not just becoming dissatisfied with your own business progress, but you risk slowing down your business and sabotaging everything you have worked so hard for.
Do you suffer from comparisonitis?
So what is comparionsitis? And how do you know if you suffer from it?
The official definition is the compulsion to compare your achievements (or lack of!) with those of others. And it’s an affliction that’s particularly rife in early stage businesses. Here are some signs you may be suffering from it:
- You compulsively check your competitors’ social media accounts.
- You torture yourself by looking at their perfectly put together website and sales pages.
- You feel like giving up when you see their promotional campaigns.
- You can’t help wondering ‘why’s that not me?’ when you read about their successes.
If any of these feel uncomfortably close to home, you may be suffering from comparisonitis.
Five reasons why comparisonitis is so dangerous
So what’s wrong with comparisonitis? Many things! To start with, let’s get to the truth: you’re rarely making an honest comparison.
Often what you are comparing are your fears, your lack of progress and the perceived failures of your own business, with the apparent success of others. But this isn’t fair, or accurate. Here are five reasons why comparisonitis is so wrong, and even dangerous in business.
1) You’re comparing your truth with their marketing
When you look into another business, you’re only seeing what they project into the world (or what you interpret from their marketing). And don’t we all want to project an impression of success?
Every honest business owner we have spoken to has revealed that they’ve had tough days, weeks and even years. There have been times they’ve felt isolated, hopeless and wanted to give up. One inspirational and successful business owner recently confessed her business didn’t make a profit for eight years.
But when you assess a business purely on their marketing messages, or current success, you don’t see any of that. After all, no business is going to market a product with a messages like these:
- “We hope this one sells because the last three didn’t.”
- “If not enough people buy this we’re going under.”
- “We’ve priced this so low we’re making a loss on it.”
So don’t believe another business’ hype. And especially don’t believe the hype if you’re comparing yourself to someone who works in networking marketing (MLM). This particular industry is built on selling an illusion of success to recruit. Here’s just one example (taken from Facebook) of how they encourage reps to lie about success:
So beware of buying anyone else’s hype. You have no way of knowing if they genuinely are enjoying the success they claim, or whether they’re ‘faking it until they make it’.
2) You’re comparing your start to someone’s middle
But what if someone else’s business IS doing better than yours? What then?
Well you still aren’t necessarily seeing the whole story. Often we see people unfairly comparing the early months or years of their business, with a business that’s been established a while. In short, they’re comparing their start with someone else’s middle.
So just because someone has more social media followers than you, more orders, more fans and more money to pay themselves, it doesn’t mean they’re better than you. It also doesn’t mean that you won’t get there too one day. They’re just ahead of you right now because they’ve been doing it for longer.
And expecting your business to match the success of theirs right now isn’t just unrealistic, it’s not fair on them!
3) Business is a long game
Even if you do compare yourself with a company at the same stage as yours, and find yours wanting, that still doesn’t tell the whole story.
Business is a long game – probably the best analogy for this is the story of the tortoise and the hare. Just because someone is racing ahead now, doesn’t mean that they’ll stay in front of you forever.
In our experience, the most successful businesses are built on solid principles and foundations that take time to lay and get right (which is why we’ve built our 12-month business course, Kickstart, around a ‘little and often’ approach).
Rushing to get everything ready and out into the world now may win you early sales. But if you don’t have a solid business and marketing plan behind you, if you haven’t taken time to work out your brand, if you don’t get how to nurture long term relationships, you could find those sales drying out fast, with no idea how to replicate them.
So quell any pangs of jealousy if you see another business racing ahead of you, and focus on getting YOUR business right.
4) You don’t know the real truth behind their success
There could also be a logical explanation why another business may seemingly be doing better than you. For example, it may not be that particular entrepreneur’s first business (many apparent overnight successes have a string of failed businesses they’ve learned from).
And yes, they may be making faster progress than you, but that progress has been earned in prior experience that you don’t have (yet).
Or a business may have funding or well-connected mentors behind it. The business owner may have sacrificed shares in their company to get a head start. So while it may appear that you’re making slower progress, it’s understandable if you’re doing it on your own.
5) You’re slowing your own business down
The final reason why comparisonitits is so dangerous is that by constantly stalking your competitors you’re slowing your own business down.
It’s the equivalent to looking over your shoulder in a race – it distracts you, stops you putting all your energy into your performance, and can even lead you to blindly stumble and take yourself out of the race altogether.
If you’re so caught up in what others are doing, you’re not keeping a hawk-like eye on your own business. There’s also a risk, in your envy of someone else’s apparent success, that you forget your own business or marketing strategy and try to copy theirs instead.
This is a mistake for two reasons:
- What works for them and their customers won’t necessary work for you and yours.
- You have no way of knowing if their strategy is really working (or why).
And, rather than intuitively build a business that’s right for you and your customers, you’ll try to create a copycat business that will probably be a pale imitation of the original and you probably won’t enjoy.
Stop comparing – and start building!
Comparing yourself to others is emotionally draining, and quite frankly exhausting. And not only might it be entirely pointless (given the above five points) but it doesn’t feel very nice.
So if you want to a build a business you’re proud of, one that is true to you and your personal goals, stop comparing it (and you) to anyone else. Instead, focus on your own progress – whether it’s fast or slow. And remind yourself of who won that race between the tortoise and the hare!